Hereditary Cancer

Everyone is at risk for cancer, but if you have had cancer, or have a family history of cancers, you may be at a higher risk than the general public.

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What is Genomics?

Genomics is the study of genetic (hereditary) factors behind diseases. The Utah Cancer Genomics Program (UCGP) receives Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding to increase the use of family health history, genetic counseling, and testing for hereditary cancers.
opens in a new tabCDC Genomics Info

Am I at risk?

Knowing the risk factors for hereditary cancers helps you make lifestyle choices that might prevent cancer and know if you should talk to a genetic counselor.

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What is genetic counseling?

Genetic counselors are people trained in genetics (inherited traits).

A genetic counselor:

  • Reviews your family health history
  • Helps you decide if genetic testing is right for you
  • Talks about any fears or concerns you may have about genetic testing
  • Explains the testing results

If you have a family history, or a personal history of breast, ovarian, uterine, or colon cancer, you may want to meet with a genetic counselor to find out if genetic testing is right for you.

opens in a new tabGenetic Counseling CDC Info

Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer BRCA 1/2

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that protect you from getting certain cancers. If you have a mutation (change) in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene you are more likely to get breast and/or ovarian cancer.

Even men who have a mutation are at risk for prostate cancer and breast cancer. Both men and women with these mutations (changes in genes) are also at risk for pancreatic cancer and melanoma.

BRCA1/2 mutations (changes) are more likely to be seen in families with a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Knowing if you have a BRCA1/2 mutation can help you to make choices that can reduce your risk of cancer.

opens in a new tabBRCA 1/2 mutation info from the CDC

Hereditary colorectal (colon) cancer and Lynch Syndrome

If you have Lynch Syndrome, you are much more likely to develop colorectal cancer, a type of uterine cancer called endometrial cancer, and other cancers. Blood relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews are also at a risk of having Lynch Syndrome. Lynch Syndrome is more likely in families where people have had colon cancer before age 50, or in women who have had uterine cancer. The only way to know if you have Lynch syndrome is through genetic testing. Knowing if you have Lynch Syndrome can help you make choices that can reduce your chances of getting colorectal cancer.

opens in a new tabLynch Syndrome info from the CDC

I tested positive for the BRCA 1/2 mutation, now what?

If you tested positive for Lynch Syndrome or a BRCA1/2 mutation, your parents, children, sisters, and brothers have a 50% chance of having this condition.

If you test positive you should talk with your doctor or a genetic counselor.

opens in a new tabLearn more about these mutations
opens in a new tabYour guide to genetic testing
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Family health history

Knowing and acting on your family health history is a way to protect your health. Collect your family health history and share it with your doctor at your next visit. Your doctor can use it to help you prevent the diseases you may have a risk of developing.

opens in a new tabLearn more about family health history from the CDC

Am I at Risk?


Risk factors for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer BRCA 1/2

You should speak with a genetic counselor about testing for BRCA1/2 if you have any of the following in your family.

  • Breast cancer before age 50.
  • Cancer in both breasts in the same woman.
  • Both breast and ovarian cancers in the same woman, or the same family.
  • Multiple breast cancers.
  • Two or more types of BRCA1- or BRCA2-related cancers in a single family member.
  • Cases of male breast cancer.
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.
  • A known BRCA1/2 mutation.

Men can also be at risk for certain cancers if they have the BRCA1/2 mutation.

opens in a new tabLearn more from the National Cancer Institute

Risk factors for Lynch Syndrome and hereditary colorectal (colon) cancer

You should speak with a genetic counselor about testing for Lynch Syndrome if you have any of the following in your family.

  • If you have colorectal cancer younger than age 50.
  • If you have colorectal cancer and other cancers linked with Lynch syndrome at the same time or apart.
  • If you have colorectal cancer with tumor features linked to Lynch syndrome at an age younger than 60.
  • If colorectal cancer is found in one or more first-degree relatives.
opens in a new tabLearn more from the CDC